Articulating the future of spatial data science

In his book, Spatial Data Science (Esri Press, 2024), John P. Wilson outlines why and how spatial scientists and data scientists complement one another in their thought processes and methods. He calls for scientists across academic disciplines and practioners in diverse application domains to adopt and utilize the latest advances in computing, new geospatial data streams and the latest spatial methods.

Liu, X., Chen, M., Claramunt, C., Batty, M., Kwan, M.-P., Senousi, A., Cheng, T., Strobl, J., Coltekin, A., Wilson, J.P., Bandrova, T., Konecny, M., Torrens, P., Zhang, F., He, L., Wang, J., Ratti, C., Kolditz, O., Klippel, A., Li, S., Lin, H., Lü, G., Geographic information science in the era of geospatial big data: A cyberspace perspective. The Innovation, 3(5), 100279 (2022).

The focus on place, space, time and spatiotemporal information and the complementary roles of theory, practice and technology in the spatial sciences offer hope that we can achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals before the world as we know it is irreversibly changed.

John P. Wilson, Professor of Architecture, Civil & Environmental Engineering, Computer Science, Population and Public Health Sciences, Sociology and Spatial Sciences

Geocoding for precision healthcare

Spatial Sciences Institute researchers have developed novel uses of GIS to show how multiple social and environmental determinants of health (SEDoH) affect disease outcomes.

As part of a research team with the Southern California Clinical and Translational Science Institute (SC CTSI), SSI’s John P. Wilson and Beau MacDonald created a simple-to-use, open-source resource to enrich the clinical databases of the University of Southern California and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles by incorporating SEDoH data and geographic information.

This new resource includes 42 curated, geocoded social and environmental variables from national and California governmental datasets. Researchers and practioners can search the toolkit called the Social and Environmental Determinants Address Enhancement (SEnDAE) toolkit for geographic matches between clinical health records and the 42 variables, while also protecting patient privacy.

In SEnDAE (pronounced “sundae”), investigators can, for example, identify patients with a specific ailment—such as asthma—and link them to geocoded addresses and environmental exposure data such as air quality or housing or other determinant data.

The project lead was Neil Bahroos, Associate Professor of Research Population and Public Health Sciences and Chief Research Informatics Officer at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. Bahroos is also the Director of the Clinical Research Informatics core at SC CTSI, which provides expertise in data integration, data sharing and data security to help drive the integration of clinical care and clinical research.

Kingsbury, P., Bahroos, N., Meeker, D., Espinoza, J., Angyan, P., Abajian, H., Abajian, M., MacDonald, B., Wilson, J.P., SEnDAE: A resource for expanding research into social and environmental determinants of health. Computer Methods and Programs in Biomedicine, 238, 107542 (2023).